Avatar Connection to Disney Creator’s Coachella Set Design

Rohde’s retirement from Disney Imagineering was a momentous occasion and his impeccable touch on experiences has been noticeable since his departure. When you walk through or see a Rohde environment, you know it. Seeing a favela on stage in the middle of a polo field in California transported the audience to Brazil in the way that visiting an immersive Disney park can take you to the imaginative world of Avatar in its Pandora-themed land. It is to date the most believable land based on modern IP, with a distinct signature even the Star Wars-related areas are missing.

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Joe Rohde with director James Cameron at Pandora the World of Avatar

Joe Rohde with director James Cameron at Pandora the World of Avatar
Screenshot: Disney Parks/YouTube

In a Disney Parks special, director James Cameron, who worked very closely with Rohde, described the immersive experience by saying, “You could come here 50 times and have 50 different stories.” (He even asked Imagineering, “Could we come down here and shoot some scenes?”) I wish I loved the Avatar movies as much as I love Pandora because it feels more real and true to its universe (enough to get me to care) than the Batuu of Galaxy’s Edge does to Star Wars. Seeing Rohde play in other mediums like music sets for a top global artist was really incredible. And while he’s no longer at Disney, he’s off to bigger and further out-there projects with his new gig, working with Virgin Galactic as a strategic advisor.

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